If you met a woman who said that she talked to angels every day, you might be forgiven for raising a discreetly cynical eyebrow. But somehow Lorna Byrne is different.
Thousands of people say that she has changed their lives for the better, and a hard-headed publisher believed in her story enough to get her to write a book -- and that book is now right up there near the top of the Irish best-sellers list.
I went to meet her with a typical journalist's scepticism -- and came away feeling strangely energised. But let's start at the beginning, with the basic outline of Lorna's life.
When she was a child, Lorna was considered retarded. Unable to learn at school, she had few friends, and seemed always to live in another world.
Bought up in near poverty, Lorna left school early, and worked in her father's garage. There she met Joe, her first boyfriend, and the man she went on to marry. Life was tough. Joe suffered from a type of diabetes that could not be controlled. He had to give up work and, after a series of small strokes and seizures, died in his forties. They had four children. Three are now grown. Lorna lives with the youngest, who is 12, dividing her time between Kilkenny and Maynooth, in houses that have been loaned to her.
In her autobiography, Angels in my Hair, Lorna tells the reader that she sees angels and spirits; that they are her constant companions.
These include an Archangel, Michael, and the prophet Elijah. It was he, she tells us, who showed her Joe in a vision when she was a child. And he told her that she would marry Joe; that they would be happy, but that he would die early.
The increasing number of Irish people who ask questions of angels, and who attend mystics will have no problem believing Lorna. The sick and troubled she has prayed for and helped certainly believe in her.
Jim Corr, Daniel O'Donnell and Coronation Street's William Roche have all given her glowing testimonials.
I didn't know what to expect when I went to meet Lorna at a Dublin hotel. Was she a fraud, or worse, could she be deranged? I was disarmed by the gentleness of the women who greeted me with a shy smile. Soft spoken, Lorna looks much younger than her 54 years. There's a serenity about her, and an innocence.
"I don't like to call myself a psychic; I hate that word," she says. "I am afraid to say I am a healer, but I do help people physically and emotionally. A lot of people have got well."
This 'healing' is often emotional. Lorna sees things about someone's life, and in explaining, helps the person come to terms with it. She can tell, too, when someone is sick and why, often before the condition becomes known by medical tests.
"I won't tell fortunes," she says. "Often people ask me to, but I feel that is dangerous. It's hard, when a beautiful young man comes to see me, and he knows he is unwell. I am told by the angels, 'yes, he is terminal, but the doctors can't find it'.
"I keep sending him back to the doctors, and eventually, when it shows up I know it is too late. I have to help the family through it."
I listen, keeping an open mind.
"When I was a child I'd play with this little boy Christopher," she says. "He'd drift in and out of my life. When I touched him, he sparked. That was when I realised he was not flesh and blood. Later, my mother told me that Christopher had been born before me, but had died at 10 weeks old."
Lorna says she has been chosen by the angels to spread a message: "I hate saying it, yet I know I was. I feel privileged that the angels enabled me to see them so clearly. They are there and they have taught me everything." That, she says, is why she had such severe learning difficulties.